by Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Elected officials and community activists gathered at Independence Mall for the 34th annual “official opening” of the MLK holiday with a symbolic “ringing” of the Liberty Bell at noon.
Though the ceremony followed tradition, there was a renewed sense of purpose among participants.
As in previous years, there was a choir and prayers and speeches, but there was less celebration of Dr. King’s legacy and more calls to follow his example of activism.
“And I say this at a time when many people feel like they can’t go on. We can go on,” said April Ryan, the Urban Radio network White House correspondent.
Ryan was the official bell-ringer. She noted she’d be covering a new president in just four days, and said uncertainty about the new administration was galvanizing many who are no longer certain the advances King helped bring about are secure.
“We must remember the blueprint that Dr. King left for us, that if things aren’t right, we have to activate, activate en masse,” Ryan said.
As she spoke, marchers passed by outside with signs demanding protection for civil rights.